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Energy management – adding value in the specification process

As more organisations switch onto the benefits of energy saving and face pressure to comply with mounting legislation, emphasis is being placed on energy efficient products and solutions. David Lewis, from Schneider Electric, discusses the options available

Energy management – adding value in the specification process

Commercial organisations can no longer escape the fact that saving energy has to be a priority. Not only does this align with the Government’s drive towards lower carbon emissions, but companies are also looking for ways to save money and reducing energy usage can achieve this. Electrical contractors have a role to play - not just in the installation of technologies - by understanding legislation that affects your customers, you can add value in the specification process.

When it comes to achieving greater energy efficiency within an organisation, the way to manage and improve energy usage can be broken into four simple steps – measure; fix the basics; automate; and monitor and improve.

Before reducing costs, a business needs to know what it spends. By measuring energy usage through metering, energy audits and simple bill analysis, it is possible to monitor the consumption of installations, areas and different systems, such as heating and lighting, to identify where savings can be made.

In a bid to reduce carbon emissions, Part L2 of the Building Regulations demands new builds, major refurbishments and any other commercial premises to account for the usage of 90% of each fuel type, meaning metering should be fitted. Today, there are measuring technologies available to help keep track of energy consumption. These range from individual metering and monitoring devices, to products where metering is integrated into another technology, commonly found in an electrical circuit such as a distribution board or circuit breaker. The options mean that there is a suitable solution for retrofit and refurbished or new build applications, such as Schneider Electric’s Isobar split metering board.

Type A and B split metered distribution boards are suitable for single and three phase applications to monitor energy consumption. Other technologies include metering and monitoring devices such as Powerlogic or a retrofit metering kit with split core current transformers.

Monitor and identify
Utilising monitoring equipment and software will identify where energy is being consumed and some of the technologies available are now recognised by the Government led Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme. This allows businesses to offset the cost of energy efficient products and technologies against their tax bill, provided they use equipment which is included on the Energy Technology List.

Fix the basics
The second step in an energy management strategy is to fix the basics. This begins with organisations encouraging simple behavioural changes within the business, like switching off lights or IT equipment when not required, which will make significant savings. In addition, contractors should highlight the importance of considering the power consumption of different technologies and installations such as circuit breakers, contactors and low loss transformers, which work efficiently and will help reduce energy costs. Power factor correction can be applied to improve the stability and efficiency of the electrical network, providing significant cost savings with an excellent return on investment.

The third step, automation, avoids the business having to rely on uncertain human actions and ensures energy saving while providing increased comfort and safety. Today’s automated solutions include ranges such as Schneider Electric’s Control and Command, which features time clocks, light sensitive switches and presence detection equipment. These technologies can automate lighting, heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems. In addition, the use of variable speed drives can provide savings of up to 50% for a speed reduction of 20%.

Monitor and improve
The final step in the cycle is to monitor and improve. By continuously analysing usage, businesses can achieve cost savings through maintenance, supervision and monitoring, to help make further improvements. Software solutions such as a comprehensive building management system can monitor and analyse energy trends and consumption, which will help the company to strictly manage costs well into the future.

There is a huge range of solutions and services available to help contractors add value to the service they offer customers and spread the message about how easy energy efficiency can be. By implementing energy management solutions, contractors can help businesses to save money, lower their carbon footprint and meet legislative commitments.

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